An impromptu double date brought us to Shao, an eatery at the end of quiet Frankel Avenue, that serves an interesting lineup of Teochew cuisine. The signboard says Casual Teochew Cuisine but trust me, ‘casual’ refers only to the setup of the restaurant. The menu definitely speaks more than casual.
Helmed by the young Chef Jack Ding, who claims he’s been intrigued by cooking and food from a young age; and judging from the crowd at the cozy family style restaurant this Wednesday evening, he’s on his way, if not already, intrigued the hearts of many, many people…., myself included.
Service at Shao is efficient from front of the house to back in the kitchen. We ordered 8 items from their menu and couldn’t find fault with any of them! Every dish is freshly prepared, piping hot and very quickly too. A plus if you’re super hungry or rushing to catch a flight! Not so if you’d like to chill and enjoy the meal. We asked for the kitchen to slow down after the first 2 dishes came mere minutes apart. The rest of the food arrived in timely fashion thereafter. Service – Checked!
Drunken Cockles – Check out these big, fat, juicy hairy cockles. Steamed in an umami soy sauce with so much chopped garlic you’re almost afraid to breathe…, that is until you take a bite. Incredibly, the garlic isn’t the teeniest bit overpowering. Instead, it enhanced the savory soy sauce and briny cockle meat beautifully. That sauce is so good over rice or on its own!
Baby Pomfrets – These small pomfrets, barely the size of my palm, are lightly seasoned and deep fried in a hot oil bath. So super crunchy, you devour the entire fish from head to tail to every single bone in between! And those shreds of fresh ginger and scallion really complement the fried fish, cutting the dry crunch with a bit of zing. Oh I could eat 10 of these crunchy babies!
Sotong Sausage – Have had my fair share of sausages from all over the world but this has got to be my first one made entirely of squid, including its ink. The texture is soft and springy. Unlike most sausages, it isn’t too salty, just the right savoriness and natural sweetness from the squid. Black sausages aren’t the prettiest to look at but damn are they tasty!
Stir Fried Qing Long Cai– Our mandatory veggie dish, everyone’s favorite green dragon leaves, simply stir fried with garlic and fresh chili slices to a fresh, crisp finish!
Dry Cooked Intestines with Chili– Oh how I would have cleaned out the fried intestines if they weren’t so spicy!! If you love spicy stuff and fat spongy intestines, this will freak you out! Coated lightly in flour and a good dose of salt and pepper (and is that cumin I taste?), then deep fried golden brown, with all juices locked in the fat intestines. Finished with a sprinkle of Szechuan dried chilis and peppercorns for more heat! This got my entire mouth burning!! But for you hardcore spiced crazed foodies out there, this would make you very happy!
Wok Fried Hor Fun– One of the dishes I most look forward to at any Teochew restaurant. It’s simple and limited ingredients are exactly why it’s such a challenge. A good one should contain a good amount of Chye Poh (preserved radish), since it’s the essence of the dish. Nicely flavored will not cut it! A good one shall reek full of wok hei. Full of depth. And full of aroma. It must have you dreaming of it days after! Shao’s version checks all the boxes. Every piece of thick Hor fun (flat rice noodle) is coated in fragrant oil and soy, with bits of radish and garlic stuck to it. It comes so piping hot you could taste the heat of the fiery wok in every mouthful. This is Chinese cooking Kung Fu!
Deciding on Oysters out of the 3 Claypot Pao Fan Porridges was one of the best choices we made tonight. Especially if you’re a big oyster fan! There were so many plump little oysters you’d be oystered out by the time you reach the bottom of your bowl! The broth smells and taste crazy good of natural sweetness, savory umami and tingling wok hei. The freshly fried crispy rice infuses into the soupy rice giving off a smokiness that will have you thank yourself you haven’t gone keto! One heck of a porridge!
The standard portions at Shao are perfect for 4 people. And by the end of our meal (7 dishes) we were close to unbuckling our jeans! Don’t ask why we went and order one more item! Maybe cuz Tofu Fish sounds too interesting to miss? Or because Chef Jack says it’s not available everyday. We’re not ungrateful fellas, so we mustn’t not seize the opportunity presented before us!! Tofu Fish is basically a kind of fish with meat sooooo soft, it tastes like tofu! The fragile fish chunks are coated in batter and deep fried. The batter puffs up and you get fish-and-chip-like nuggets that are seasoned further in a toasty salt and pepper spiced powder. Bite through the crispy batter shell into melting soft fish. The texture is simply amazing. I was so stuffed, and seriously could only manage one piece….; but it was sooo good, I force fed myself another just so I don’t regret it the next day!
Shao is definitely worth a second, and a third visit, if only to check out what Chef Jack has up his sleeves. Apparently, a revised menu is pending and due to roll after Chinese New Year. As for me, new menu or not, I’m putting them on my speed dial.
SHAO @ 117 Frankel Ave, Singapore 458232 Phone +65 6610 9233
Disclaimer- This is not a sponsored post!